The single bench of Hon'ble Shri Justice Sanjay K. Agrawalin an AFR judgement in the Case: Radhe Shyam Khemka(dead) vs. Raju Yadav alias Ram Kumar [Criminal Misc. Petition No.744 of 2014] held that sec 14 of Limitation Act 1963 has no implementation in criminal prosecution.
Section 14 provides for the elimination of the court's time spent on bona fide prosecutions, which lacked authority/jurisdiction. The problem with the case in hand was that will section 14(1) of Limitations Act ,1963 would be applicable or not? In this case, the discharge of complaint’s application filed for the remission of delay read with Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 was under challenge.
Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal noted that the relevance of 14(1) of Limitations Act,1963 is restricted to suits, appeal or revision, it cannot be expanded to criminal proceedings like revision.
However, the court observed that Section 470(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides that while calculating the period of limitation, the time during which any person has been pursuing with due rigour another prosecution, whether in the first proceeding or during an appeal hearing or revision shall be excluded.
Putting into words the authority of section 14 of Limitations Act,1963 the bench noted that:
“The principle of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is the protection against the bar of limitation of a person honestly doing his best to get his case tried on the merits, but failing through the Court being unable to give him such a trial. Section 14 provides for exclusion of time spent in proceedings bonafide, in a Court which lacked jurisdiction. The aims and objectives of the said provision are to afford protection against the bar of limitation to a litigant who was honestly prosecuting the lis before a Court which had no jurisdiction to grant the relief prayed for. The principle underlying the said provision is that limitation will remain in suspense while the litigant was bona fide prosecuting for his rights in a Court of justice due to wrong advice. Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 contains a general principle based on justice, equity and good conscience and the said principle should be applied without strict regard to the period of limitation prescribed. A person prosecuting under a mistake of law is entitled to the benefit of Section 14 whereas while dealing with a petition filed under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, a Court has to be satisfied that there was reasonable ground for approaching the Court late and that each day of delay is more or less explained. Thus, exclusion of time under Section 14 of the Limitation Act is mandatory once the conditions precedent prescribed in Section 14(1) are satisfied, whereas the Court's power under Section 5 of the Limitation Act is discretionary. Section 14(1) has been made applicable to any suit and “suit” has been defined in Section 2(l) of the Limitation Act, 1963 and it does not include an appeal or an application.
Elaborating on various aspects of the said Act, the learned counsel made reference to the case of J. Kumaradasan Nair and others v. IRIC Sohan and others, in which the Supreme Court held that section 14(1) of Limitations Act, 1963 is possibly interpreted only in the cases in which section 2(1) of the above act is contained, but the principle thence can be used only for the remission of delay in filing revamping application in terms of Section 5 thereof. The Supreme court also noted that the court cannot apply the benignant provisions like sec 5 and sec 14 of Limitation Act,1963 in over scrupulous way. It is true that sufficient cause has to be interpreted free handedly but the intention or the punctiliousness of the prosecutor is a point of concern.
The council also made the reference Sakhichand Sahuand others v. Ishwar Dayal Sahu and others in which the Division Bench of Patna High court that the time spent in the proceedings of an application in revision before a session or district magistrate cannot be left behind while reckoning the said period of 90 days until and unless the act is amended by the legislature.
Now, the point of contention is, whether section 14(1) of Limitations Act,1963 will be applicable in the above case or not?
Supreme Court in J. Kumaradasan Nair (supra), held that sec 14(1) of Limitations Act,1963 has been made applicable to revision or appeal arising out of the said proceeding, but its application is authorised only to a civil proceeding, it does not expand to the criminal proceeding stretching beyond the civil proceeding and by virtue of Section 14(1), appeal or revision (civil), by virtue of the decision of the Supreme Court in J.Kumaradasan Nair (supra), it would be encapsulating to much to hold that it should also be applicable in a criminal proceeding.
Thus, the jurisdiction of Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act,1963 is restricted to suit and appeal or revision, it cannot be made applicable to a criminal proceeding like revision as sufficient justification was not provided for the delay of two years before filing the application for grant of appeal